6/22/2017

When Even The Baby Steps Are Hard

6/22/2017


"There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Man. Sometimes I really need the gospel preached to my heart, over and over. 
I need the Spirit to wash over my soul and give me the hope and peace and happiness I can't manufacture on my own. 
I need moments of desperation to bring me back to thankfulness and perseverance. 

Right now, the baby steps are hard. In my last post I opened up about the struggles I've been having these past few months when it comes to my purpose, and if I'm really cut out for ministry and serving with my life. I thought that merely understanding my "burnout" would solve my problem. But that's only half the battle. For the first time in my short time as a believer, church has been hard. Serving has been hard. Loving has been hard. I'm tired. I feel like I have nothing left to give. But what I'm learning is that this - how we handle these desperate moments - is what defines those whom Jesus calls. I may not be perfect, but I will persevere. I will choose to do the next right thing - simply, I will put one foot in front of the other and cling to the cross with whatever strength I can muster. 

I was called to one hope. I was called to one Lord. One faith. One baptism. To the God and Father of all. The one who has it all in his hands, who is over all, through all, and in all. 

Some days that's all I can whisper to myself as I battle my empty. Other days I sing it from the rooftops and dance around my kitchen, unable to contain the joy that I have. Faith isn't one or the other - it's both. I'm learning that struggling does not equal failing. If you need a little bit of encouragement in your walk today, I hope you know that you're not alone. You have hope. There's something bigger than any of us and any problem that we could have working over it all, through it all, and in it all. So when even the baby steps of living are weighing you down, know you don't have to carry it all. You're never stuck. You can do this. 

You have hope. 
6/12/2017

When Cars Drive Through Walls & There's Nothing You Can Do About It

6/12/2017


A few years ago I had a job that mostly involved staring at a computer screen and talking about wine stains.
I hated it. 
It wasn't a bad job - but I was thirsty for a deep heart change. It was a season for me that was dry. I felt alone, desperately insecure, and dizzily unsure about where my life was headed. I had potential. I had a calling. But I did not like myself. I was weighed down with so much pain and past hurt that I felt stuck

And then a car shot right through the front of the building I was working in. 

I still remember my thoughts as it happened. First, "What--?". Then; nothing. I didn't feel anything as I watched the car, in slow motion, rev over the curb and then seeing the wall bend and crack in front of me. I was less than three feet away.

In that moment I realized - this is happening, and there's nothing I can do about it. And it wasn't just about the immediate danger. I was already on the threshold of "no turning back" when it came to how desperate my life was looking. No feelings of fear or panic, nothing moved in my cold little heart. I was already staring at rubble, just now it was in the literal place I was standing.

And sometimes, life just throws things at you. For me it was a cheap homestyle parody of a Fast and Furious movie tied to years of emotional baggage and some good old fashioned heart tearing. For you it could be your parents divorce. No money for tuition. Job loss. A break up. Something you didn't see coming and now you're left numb, standing, staring and wanting to scream, "Hey God, really? I didn't ask for this!" 

And in your heart you know that He is good. Your head knowledge tells you that there is a plan. But right now you're overwhelmed with the pieces and don't know if you even want to pick them up again.

I've been there. I'm back there again. And I'm going to tell you that it will be okay.

What I'm not going to tell you is a five step plan. I can't say that healing is just a mirror mantra and some bible verses away, or that you need to tough it out and keep everything together. Sorrow and silence never make a good pair.


When I'm feeling spent and tired and questioning whether I even have what it takes to do this whole Jesus thing, what I really need is for someone to say the battle is already won. There's a lot of comfort to be found in saying "Dude. This sucks." and have the person next to you say, "Yeah. It does suck."

Because I know I need Jesus, but I also need his people. Thank goodness we don't get to choose one or the other.

Feelings change, circumstances waver, and cars can totally drive through walls for no reason. And most of the time all you have the power to do is watch. That's why we need to be here. Keep our eyes open. Do what it takes to be soft. Be willing to listen, say "this sucks", and stay put. You don't have to be a superhero or perfect or know the right things to say. Whether its your wall that's broken or you're helping somebody rebuild theirs - in my experience your imperfections make it a whole lot easier to be vulnerable, to listen and to hear. It's hard. It's rarely fun. But it's a part of what we're called to do. It's how we're supposed to share in community. Jesus, + his people. That's what it's all about.



6/01/2017

I'm Really Embarrassed.

6/01/2017
Photo by Junxiang Wang on Unsplash

I was really embarrassed when I started writing this. 

I’ve always thought that “burnout” is something that happened to old people. People who had done their time. Or people who didn’t have a loving community to rely on, people who let their faith walk through sheer neglect turn into just a faith talk.

I thought burnout was a code word for tired and bored — a code word for “not cut out for this”. 

Over the past few months I’ve been battling against something I didn’t have a name for. I felt lonely, sad, angry, hopeless. I described it to a friend as a slump. “This just isn’t me — I’m not like this. Why can't I shake it off this time?” Kept running over and over in my head. I thought I just needed to add fifteen more minutes to my morning devotions. I thought I needed to keep another log book and try extra hard to make sure my time spent with God was “more meaningful”. I thought “if I keep trying, get rid of this or that distraction, distance myself, yet speak more, pray more, love harder, be softer, I'll eventually get over this.” 



It wasn't until I had probably one of the biggest break downs I've ever had that I realized, gurl. You need to stop

There's nothing quite like sobbing ugly, slobbery, Kim Kardashian tears and screeching; "I can't do it. I'm so tired. I don't know what the point of it all is. I don't want to live like this anymore." into your mom's lap to signal you're looking right into the pit of a no-good, burnt out valley. And it's nothing new.

I ran myself ragged at school. I came home and was trying to do the same thing. Sign up for this event, speak here, lead that, volunteer with this. Take that 3am phone call. Mediate that conversation. Write a blog post a week and work a full time job. Date enough so you look like you're trying but not too much so you don't look desperate. I was trying to have the wisdom and poise of a sixty five year old, be in the stable life position of a forty-five year old, and look like a twenty five year old, athletic, "oh I just woke up like this" beauty queen. Guys, I'm barely even twenty. In many ways I'm still a kid. (And let me tell ya, I did not wake up like this.)

What I really needed was to take my own advice. Stop for a second. Breath. (Funny how the wisdom we give often times is the wisdom we need preached most to our own hearts?) I didn't need to be more spiritual or read another book. I needed to take a dang nap and turn my phone off.

I could turn around and blame society. Social media. Church culture. God. I could blame myself for not being the best. For not "looking high enough heavenward" like all the popular evangelical blogs tell me to do.

But to be truthful - the enemy was none of those things. The enemy was not my ineptitude. The enemy was me, Beth, desperately trying to be mine and everybody else's saviour. It's the crack cocaine of serving, isn't it? Doing everything with excellence was my personal mantra. Show no weakness. Show no fear. Be salt and light and everything else in between, and look dang good while doing it. Looking back I can see all the signs of burnout as clear as the blue sky above me. 

So today I'm breaking the cycle. I'm learning to say no graciously. It's going to be really hard - and I don't know if there will come a time when I find myself here again down the road. Serendipitously, A babe friend of mine sent me this quote right when I needed it, and if you're reading this like Preaaach Beth! Saaaaame! maybe you need to hear it too;

"Learning how to say no with kindness to the things not meant for us, yields the freedom to say yes to the things we are called to carry."

If you are facing burnout, I'm right with you. The signs are there. You can probably feel it in the pit of your stomach. So let's rest - like really rest - and make it a part of our ministry rhythm. My resting currently looks like sleeping under the stars and drinking purified river water. Yours could be spending time with your family, building something, or just lying on the couch doing diddly squat for a day. Let's humble ourselves - swallow that pride and shame - and dare to admit that we aren't perfect and never will be. Tell each other that it's okay, so we can be our healthiest and get back to the point of it all - to wholeheartedly serve others and to love God.